School performance is measured formally in School and College Achievement and Attainment Tables (SCAATs), by the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), and through school profiles. The new School Report Card, which is currently in development, will incorporate information currently spread out in each of these school performance evaluations. Each type of evaluation can be a useful resource for understanding a school's strengths and challenges prior to engagement.
School and College Achievement and Attainment Tables (SCAATs)
The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) produces School and College Achievement and Attainment Tables (formerly Performance Tables), which show the average attainment of students in schools and colleges on their National Curriculum assessments. Attainment tables also compare the schools and colleges to their peers in their local authority area and on a national scale.
Attainment tables are regularly published in newspapers and on the internet. For more information or to find attainment tables, visit www.dcsf.gov.uk/performancetables.
Ofsted is a non-ministerial public body that is responsible for inspecting the standards of state schools and independent schools, local education authorities, child day care and child minding in England. It also monitors the work of the Independent Schools Inspectorate. The purpose of inspection is to help improve the quality and standards of education and childcare.
Ofsted also aims to:
- promote service improvement
- ensure services focus on the interests of their users
- see that services are efficient, effective and promote value for money.
Schools are inspected in order to assess how well they are performing, and inspections focus on how well the school is managed and what processes are in place to ensure that standards of teaching and learning improve. Inspections generally take place every three years. Since 2005, schools receive only short notice (two clear working days) prior to inspection.
Inspections must result in a written report indicating one of four grades: outstanding; good; satisfactory; inadequate. The reports contain a description of the school and its overall effectiveness as well as an assessment of the quality of teaching, curriculum, guidance and support, and leadership and management. Published reports are available in the Inspection Reports section of Ofsted's website.
The new School Report Card (in development)
In October 2008, Ed Balls (the schools secretary) announced his intention to improve reporting on schools' performance through a new School Report Card, which will be piloted from autumn 2009 to spring 2011. The School Report Card is meant to be both a simpler and more balanced evaluation of school performance, with (in addition to attainment on examinations):
- an overall score for the school
- graded categories showing the school's progress or decline in relation to its previous attainment levels
- information about the school's partnerships in the community
- the views of parents and students.
School profiles are documents that all state schools in England must produce (except for state nursery schools) on a yearly basis. While they are not produced by an independent agency, they do incorporate data provided by school-evaluating bodies and may be the best one-stop source for a clear, quick compilation of information about a school.
Each profile includes standard information provided by the DCSF and Ofsted - such as the type of school and number of students - and a summary of school performance in National Curriculum assessments. In addition, schools and their governors are required to report on their efforts to improve; progress made during the year; and how they are supporting their students' academic, social, and health needs.
School profiles can be found by using Directgov's SchoolsFinder.